THAT got your attention.
I’m talking about the new doll that allows little girls to breastfeed them. It’s causing quite the stir, of course, and as a La Leche League leader and mom who breastfed her babies–well past what is considered “normal” in the USA–my take on this won’t be all that surprising.
I will concede that back before I had babies and chose to breastfeed them, I would have found such a doll lewd, disgusting, and disordered. Owing to my typical American upbringing, and saturated from birth by a culture that sees breasts as nothing more than sexual objects to be used to flaunt and taunt, my reaction would have been pretty much similar to the reactions of today to this little doll.
That is, of course, back before I had actually had children–back when I knew everything about parenting.
Read about the doll in the link above; Bebe Gloton (“gluttonous baby”) cries when she wants more milk, and makes sucking noises while she feeds. I’m pretty sure that these features aren’t unique to Bebe Gloton. We have, after all, dolls who pee, burp, talk, you name it. What seems to be upsetting some people is the way that she’s meant to be comforted and nourished–not by a bottle–but by what God actually intended from the start–the breast! They might also cringe because the doll comes with a nursing top for little girls to wear, that has little flowers where the baby puts its mouth to activate suckling. (The horror!) Remind toy companies to can every “Just Like Mommy” product before they do irreversible damage…
The reactions in the article, to me, are a scream. I’m not trying to diminish the true dumbfoundedness that these people are feeling, but I think I need to point out a very important thing: Children who have been breastfed since birth and who have witnessed their younger siblings being breastfed from birth don’t find anything freaky about repeating what is to them (and should be to us all) a completely normal and natural way to feed a baby. And I will also point out that it doesn’t take a breastfeeding doll to make little girls imitate it, either. Both of my children have play-nursed dolls, with no coaching from me. When a child has rarely seen a baby being fed from a bottle, what do these experts presume they will do when presented with a ravenous doll? It’s an automatic lifting of the shirt, and it does the trick every time, just like in real life.
Sorry to break it to some people, but the purpose of breasts on women–just like all other mammals–is to feed their young. Every time I see someone going through an internal shit-fit when they witness a woman unobtrusively nursing her infant, I want to scream at them, “Relax! That’s what they’re FOR!”
And just to put forth another quite salient point: Breasts are not sexual objects to young children! I think the horrified experts are failing to do one very important thing: They are failing to take off their “breasts-as-sexy” glasses when examining little Bebe Gloton. So hang up your hang-ups and take a chill pill, I say.
I do want to address the claim put forth in the article that Bebe Gloton “might promote early pregnancy” and “speed up maternal urges in little girls who play it.” Dr. Alvarez also wonders whether little girls might later be “traumatized.”
If we’re going to start worrying about various anatomical anomalies of specific dolls and action figures, I’ve got a treasure trove for people horrified by a nursing doll: Cabbage Patch Kids had cracks, for crying out loud–cracks and tatoos. Barbie? Well, her impossible figure has been hashed and re-hashed for forty some years. Ken doesn’t have a penis. What message is that sending to curious youngsters? (Not that I think he should have one, mind.) And need I mention the Bratz dolls? As far as promoting early maternal feelings goes, probably not so much, but I would definitely argue that the Bratz dolls (David refers to them as “Slutz” dolls) could verifiably promote what leads to early pregnancy in girls.
That said, I do acknowledge the reality of our bottle-is-normal, breasts-as-toys culture, and therefore cut most people some sort of slack. They really cannot help their knee-jerk reaction to recoil from a breast working as it was made to work. Perhaps we need more products like Bebe Gloton to help people along.